Standing out in the #MeToo conversation is how we all wear masks. Continuously, men we thought were good aren’t. The latest example is physicist and public speaker Lawrence Krauss. Friends in the atheist movement knew about his reputation for years, but it wasn’t until BuzzFeed published an article detailing his history of sexual misconduct allegations that everyone else found out.
Shortly after, allegations against someone in my own circle of atheist podcasters came to light. I heard some things about him before, but he seemed like the epitome of a male feminist so I had doubts. He spoke about the dangers of White Feminism, giving non-white non-men space to tell their stories, and how all politics are identity politics. That changed last week when several friends shared screenshots that proved he was wearing a mask the whole time. I’ve since cut off all contact with him.
That’s why I try to be as naked (figuratively speaking) as possible. When #MeToo first started, I shared the story of how I was the Creepy Sensitive Nice Guy many years ago. I needed to cleanse myself from the toxic masculinity I inherited from our sexist culture and encourage men to do the same.
Yet maybe the mask is still there. Whenever I see murderers and rapists on TV, I wonder if I’m capable of doing the same. It’s a ridiculous question because I’ve never groped or forced myself upon anyone at a conference, not even under the influence of various substances. Yet I know that I’m a walking contradiction. I’m a peacemaker with a violent temper. I’m a humanist who thinks dogs are better than people. On most days I’m able to keep this balance between darkness and light in check, but worry that one day the darkness will take over. My mask will fall off, and everyone will finally see I’m a fraud.
Friends tell me if I’m afraid I’m a fraud, then it’s not true. Maybe the way forward is to openly embrace our lightness and our darkness, our good and our evil, and our honesty and dishonesty. That way there will no longer be a need for masks, and no need to worry about being exposed as frauds.